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The Hiccupotamus: Aaron Zenz: Picture Book Review

Book: The Hiccupotamus
Author: Aaron Zenz
Pages: 32
Age Range: 3-8 

HiccupThe Hiccupotamus, by Aaron Zenz, is a book that I was interested in merely from reading the title. What can I say? There's something irresistible about a hiccuping hippopotamus. Especially when he and his surroundings are portrayed in lavender-tinged pastels.

The Hiccupotamus is the sad tale of a hippo cursed with incessant hiccups. Whenever he tries to do anything, his hiccups get in the way. His fellow animals try various folk remedies to cure him. Nothing works. Until... You'll have to pick up the book to find out.

The Hiccupotamus is written in a style that some adult readers will love, though others may find annoying, with nonsense words created to make the rhyming work. I think that it will have kids of a certain age in stitches, and that's the important thing. Here are a couple of examples:

"There was a hippopotamus
Who hiccupped quite-a-lotamus
And every time he got'emus...

... He'd fall upon his bottomus."


"She chased him toward a centipede
Pouring new cementipede.

He hic'ed by accidentipede...

... And tripped the elephantipede."

See what I mean? The style takes a bit of getting used to, but it does cry out to be read aloud. There's also a fun collection of "Cast Bios" at the end of the book, more likely to please slightly older readers. For example:

"Many considered it a risk casting an unknown in the significant elephant role. But it would appear that pachyderm Katie McMurphy has a promising career ahead of her. Following a serious allergic reaction, however, she is currently turning down all parts that involve the use of frosting."

Zenz's colored pencil illustrations use soothing, glowing colors (yellows and purples and greens) appropriate for bedtime reading. The hippo and the other animals are cartoon-like, in a good way. They are entertaining, expressive, and all-in-all adorable. My favorite is a picture of the hippo looking sheepish (after the second quotation above), while the centipede looks weary and the elephant looks baleful. Zenz has a real knack for conveying emotions through the animals' facial expressions.

My conclusion: The Hiccupotamus is a keeper! HIghly recommended for one-on-one or group readaloud.

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish
Publication Date: September 20, 2009
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2010 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission on purchases (with no additional cost to you).